April 16, 2024

Western nations urge restraint as Israel war cabinet meets 2nd time in less than 24 hours

Hamas says more than 5,000 killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza

…Israel army chief tells soldiers Iran attack ‘will be met with response’

By Tunde Oso (with agencies reports)

Several Western countries have urged Israel to avoid an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East as the war cabinet debates how to respond to Iran’s weekend attack on the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours on Monday over Iran’s missile and drone attack.

This is coming as Israel’s army chief General Herzi Halevi, while addressing troops yesterday at a military base hit in Iran’s unprecedented strike, said Israel will respond.

“This launch of so many (Iranian) missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs into the territory of the State of Israel will be met with a response,” Halevi said when he visited Nevatim base in the country’s south, according to a statement issued by the army.

In a separate statement Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said “we will do whatever is necessary to protect the State of Israel, and we will do it at the opportunity and the time we will choose.”

Iran from late Saturday launched more than 300 drones and missiles towards Israel, Israel’s military said, in retaliation for a deadly April 1 strike on Iran’s embassy consular annex in Damascus, which Iran blamed on Israel.

READ ALSO: Hamas-Israel war: Remember who started it, By Dele Sobowale

Israel’s military said it intercepted 99 percent of the aerial threats with the help of the United States and other allies, and that the attack caused only minor damage.

The Nevatim based was “lightly hit” in the strike, it said. On Monday the army released footage of a crater caused, it said, when a construction site at the base was hit in the strike.

Western countries plead for restraint

“We’re on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

“We have to step on the brakes and reverse gear.” French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron made similar appeals, echoing calls for restraint by Washington and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Neither the region nor the world can afford more war,” Guterres said late on Sunday. “Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate.”

Russia has refrained from criticising its ally Iran in public over the strikes, but expressed concern about the risk of escalation on Monday and also called for restraint.

“Further escalation is in no one’s interests,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.